Oy, it’s been 3 months, and I’m now a bloody Brit! Jk, I’m not even close – alas, it’ll take me a bit longer to develop an accent, but I do say “leisure” more like “lezzure” now to blend in :). Anyways, this past weekend was my 3 month anniversary being in the UK (England specifically) and I finally feel like I’m settled in. Not a local, but not an outsider or random tourist anymore! There is still a ton for me to learn, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of things here and have a bit more insight into the British way of life.
This post focuses on my observations on UK vs US customs, mentalities, and other randoms that set the Old England from the New (this is an homage to the fact that I one day mentioned to Omri that England looked a lot like the East Coast…and he replies “a lot like New England?” bu-dum-dah! LOL).
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My observations are biased of course, mainly because I am not British, and also that we are not in London or a big city, so some of these differences (mainly #3 and 4) can be from me being a city girl now living in the countryside. But who really knows…
My top 4 observations:
1. The Weather: Obviously. So we landed in England in the best time of year: late spring. This has given us a false sense of weather security, because we have seen many beautiful days such as this:
Everyone is outdoors, and no matter the true temperature, because it’s summer, the Brits MUST WEAR SHORTS. Or tanks. At least t-shirts. Meanwhile it’s like 14ºC, and for me, that is nowhere near shorts or t-shirt weather, but since it’s “summer”, Brits still wear their summer garb, outside weather be damned! Also, everywhere we go has outdoor seating and people are soaking it in, making the most of the dry and warm[ish] climates. It’s really nice to see people out and about, taking advantage of the weather, whereas I have no idea what all the hoopla is about. But I’m following suit because I worry for the winter…
2. The blending of Imperial and Metric Measurements: We use miles and inches, but also kilos and stones. I buy 2 pints of milk (yes, real dairy!) and 500 g of salmon. Teddy weighs about 5.2 kg. A pint is 20 oz, not 16 oz, so two ales is a lot.
And Celsius. Anything over 16ºC is comfortable. 33ºC is too much. I mean, I don’t even convert anymore and just go with it.
3. Politeness: And queueing. Brits LOVE to queue. When I go to the grocery store, if there is a shorter line and people are already queued in the longer line, they will remain in the longer line. At the stores, you generally bag your own goods and the checkers wait until all your goods are in your bags before starting on the next customer – this is good manners in general, but I feel like in the states the checkers would just keep going to maximize efficiency and speed.Nonetheless, everyone is super polite here. If someone blocks you accidentally, they apologize profusely and move. If there is a spill, no matter where, they will go gather supplies to clean it up while another person blocks off the area to make sure no one trips or falls on the mess. It just seems like people are much nicer to each other here, no matter who they are or what sort of inconvenience they have bestowed upon you/you upon them. It could just be instinct for the people and not necessarily nice-ness, but it also helps things “stay calm” and well, you know the rest.
4. Extreme Precaution: I only WISH I got a photo of this one sign I saw while on the motorway – it was a sign that said “Sign not in use”. I died when I saw it and then Omri told me about how the Brits are obsessed with safety (from work) and I slowly started to observe this in everyday life. There are cones upon cones upon cones when a lane is closed! They are placed about 6 inches apart from each other and literally make a wall that not even a person on foot can easily pass through. I saw two barricades for a man working on an electrical box on the street (he was fixing the cable). I mean, its great that the Brits care so much about keeping people safe, but I feel like it’s more of an obsession and sometimes a bit unnecessary.
There are quite a few other differences, but these were just some that stuck out to me. But there are also a lot of similarities which helps us feel like we’re not total foreigners! I mean, we all speak the same language, right (ok, there are definitely times that I have NO IDEA what people are saying, due to accent or just use of different phrases and words – and that’s for a whole other post!)?!?
I hope I haven’t offended anyone out there, I just wanted to document some things I noticed and I’m sure they will change and there will be more as I spend more time here! Overall life has been good for us here, and no matter how long I’m here, we’ll always be known in town as “the Americans” and I’m ok with that!